Hometown Champ

The city Santa Clara’s second female mayor, Pat Mahan J.D. ’80, leaves behind a tradition of balancing development with preservation. Oh, and a home for the 49ers.

Hometown Champ
Prior to its groundbreaking in 2012, many thought building Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was an unachievable pipe dream. Not Pat Mahan J.D. ’80. Photo courtesy Flickr.

The city of Santa Clara’s second female mayor and one of its longest serving City Council members, Patricia Mahan J.D. ’80, died Oct. 28, 2023. Her legacy includes guiding the city through significant milestones in urban development. Perhaps the biggest feather in her cap was shepherding the construction of Levi’s Stadium, all while undergoing cancer treatment.

A Santa Clara native, Mahan graduated from San José State University with her teaching certificate, but after a few years in the classroom decided to shift career paths and go to Santa Clara Law School. Mahan was a practicing attorney until the day she died.

“She just kept thinking forward,” her sister, Regina Mahan ’72, told the Silicon Valley Voice.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Mahan was elected to Santa Clara City Council in 1994. She became the city’s second female mayor from 2002 to 2006. Then she returned to the council in 2010 and 2016 before resigning in 2020 due to health reasons.

Colleagues remember Mahan for putting policy before politics, and say her dedication to Santa Clara was unwavering. “As the saying goes, service above self,” Councilmember Anthony Becker said of his friend in a statement.

Mahan was a pro at balancing the commercial development of Santa Clara with essential historic preservation. In addition to ushering the construction of the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, Mahan helped install the city’s own public utility, Silicon Valley Power, and developed more retail offerings in the city’s Northside.

Mahan also advocated for preservation projects, like the completion of the San Tomas Aquino Trail, to protect and re-create the indigenous landscapes of the Ulistac Natural Area.

“I endeavored to improve our city, enhance neighborhoods and create growth and opportunity,” Mahan told the Voice in 2014, “I want Santa Clara to be a welcoming community, a place where people can afford to live, and keep our city a leader in industry, economy and innovation. We have proven it can be done.”

Pat Mahan J.D. ’80 followed in her father’s footsteps by serving the city of Santa Clara. John Mahan served on the city council and as mayor for a total of 11 years in the 1970s and ’80s. Photo provided by Bernie Mahan.
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